Local News

Spring Lake officer cleared after 17 months

Posted November 21, 2008 9:23 a.m. EST

— A Spring Lake police officer who spent more than a year on administrative leave for shooting a man was cleared Thursday of any wrongdoing.

Officer Jose Garcia was serving a warrant on Shawn Smith, 36, of 106 Rupe St., on June 18, 2007, when Smith fled on foot. Garcia chased Smith behind First Baptist Church of Spring Lake and fired his .40-caliber Glock pistol when he saw Smith display what appeared to be a weapon, police said.

Smith was shot twice, but later recovered from his injuries.

The State Bureau of Investigation spent much of the time since the shooting reviewing the case, as it does with all officer-involved shootings in North Carolina. The SBI's findings were eventually handed over to Cumberland County District Attorney Ed Grannis, who on Thursday sent a letter to Garcia, Spring Lake Police Chief A.C. Brown and the SBI to announce his decision not to press charges in the case.

“I do not believe there is enough evidence to submit this matter to the Cumberland County Grand Jury for its consideration,” Grannis wrote.

Grannis said Smith's statements to investigators proved that he wouldn't be a credible witness in the case. Also, there was evidence that Smith had a history of confrontations with police officers and that his blood was found on a brick at the scene of the shooting, supporting Garcia's claim that Smith was prepared to attack him.

Garcia couldn't be reached Friday for comment.

Brown said he hasn't decided whether to put Garcia back on patrol.